© 2020 by Seán Laoide-Kemp

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Landscape as Witness - Field Trip: Days 37-39

August 28, 2018

During a recorded interview a few weeks ago I had been told of two bridges around Ballyvaughan that had been built during the famine years, or else they had undergone upgrades around that time. Originally I had thought that the bridges in question were actually the flood preventions built just south of the local church. However, upon emailing the interviewee to confirm this he informed me that one of the bridges was built next to the pier, with the other being built about 2km up the Lismactagdh valley. I took advantage of the overcast weather and made my way down to Ballyvaughan to see if I could document both constructions.

 

 

I found the bridge next to the pier easily enough, and was able to position myself so that I was looking at its side profile. From this angle I was able to capture the countless number of tourists and buses crossing the bridge over the short space of time that I was filming. After photographing and filming the construction from a couple of different viewpoints, I decided to search for the site of the 2nd workhouse in Ballyvaughan that had been situated next to the local GAA pitch.

 

On arriving at the pitch, I asked one of the locals whether he knew of the exact location of this workhouse. I had been under the impression that the building was long gone, however he informed me that a nearby overgrown wall had been part of the original construction, or at least that was what he had always been told. I had passed by this wall multiple times before, never noticing its existence as it was so engulfed by the surrounding undergrowth. I captured a few images of it before heading towards my next destination, the 2nd bridge in Lismactagdh.

 

En route I bumped into the local taxi driver, and I filled him in on the constructions that I had discovered since we last spoke. He told me that the bridge next to the pier was in need of upgrading once again, as it wasn't built to handle the amount of traffic that passed over it each day. Upon hearing about the bridge in Lismactagdh, he informed me that it was more than likely the first bridge that I would encounter along that road, and proceeded to tell me the best route to take.

 

It was only as I was got closer to the Lismactagdh valley that I realised I had actually been there a few times before. Micky Vaughan had lived in the valley itself, and I had travelled along this road multiple times while visiting him. The first bridge I encountered looked promising, as its construction was similar to that of the bridge at the pier in Ballyvaughan. I made my way further up the road just in case, as I wasn't sure if I had travelled 2km along it yet as instructed. Only a few hundred metres away was another bridge, which didn't look too dissimilar either. However, I remembered visiting this particular bridge with Micky earlier on in the year. We had stopped and he had pointed out the size of the stones that were used to build it, marvelling at how the builders had been able to transport them to the site all those years ago. I had been keeping notes throughout the tour that he had been giving me, and upon looking over them I noticed that I hadn't written anything down about the bridge. This confirmed to me that it hadn't been built during the famine, as I would have noted that down immediately if Micky had mentioned it. Because of this I made my way back to the first bridge that I had encountered and proceeded to document it, filming and photographing the construction from multiple angles before making my way back to the facility.

 

 

 

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